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Oct 30, 2013

Land dispute continues on Cemetery Lane

On Saturday, Cemetery Lane in Belize City resembled a war zone as armed Police Officers and B.D.F. soldiers galvanized into action. It wasn’t another Operation Jaguar or Operation Restore Belize. Actually it could be called Operation Save Gacho Stand. The law enforcement officers had been dispatched to ensure that a fast-food shack was placed on a property on Cemetery Lane. Attorney Rodwell Williams says he owns a piece of the property and he wants the gacho stand there. The Young family is saying that Williams does not own the land, and could not own any piece of it because they never sold anything to him. It would normally be a matter easily settled by the courts, except that one side was able to utilize the Police and B.D.F.  Still, nobody’s backing down, and today Mike Rudon got an update to the dispute.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

On Saturday things got downright testy on Cemetery Lane, as armed Police and B.D.F. personnel were utilized to ensure that this bright yellow food shack was placed on the Young property. The man giving those instructions is attorney Rodwell Williams. But the Young family says he doesn’t own the property or any piece of it, so he doesn’t have the right to put anything there. After a standoff that lasted hours on Saturday, attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd was summoned and has taken up the case. She says that she has brought the matter to the attention of senior officials in the Police Department.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Attorney for Young Family

“On instructions of the clients, I spoke with assistant commissioner of police, Segura and my conversation with him was basically because he insists that him as a police can adjudicate this issue. That since Mister Rodwell Williams brought his document, my client is to bring their document and then if he sees what is on the face of it then he will determine if they have acted right or wrong and then he would proceed. And I told him that’s not your role. If Mister Williams or my clients bring a court order, then you can enforce it. And it was really amazing to me that I really think that maybe he has good intent, but he misunderstands the role of the police. And the law is very clear; the police act is very clear that when it comes to property, all they can do is protect it—which means that nobody can steal it, destroy it; whatever—they cannot determine property rights. So I told him frankly what is our position. I also made him know that we are not obligated to take anything before him because he is not a court of law. For him to act in that capacity is tantamount to the state deciding that they are the judiciary. And so we subsequently wrote an official letter to the commissioner of police. I know he got it; I emailed it to all of them. So they have it and they have been given an ultimatum wherein they have to escort the building off the property and leave this matter to the court.”

 

There’s been no response to the letter so far, but Matura-Shepherd is determined to push the matter as far as it can go. She and her clients believe that the presence of the Police and B.D.F., and their behavior, was an abuse of the State’s power. The footage shows one officer, a Sergeant Clark, aggressively confronting family members. Matura says that has also been brought to the attention of the Commissioner of Police.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“I think if the commissioner is worth his salt, he should conduct an inquiry into that; what took place there. And those police officers should be dealt with. And like I said in the letter, we offered to present him with the footage, the video for him to see and determine if that behavior was becoming of a peace officer or a police officer.”

 

Police Officers presented no court order, but on Saturday said they were acting on the strength of instructions from Williams. Since then they have presented a document which claims that Williams owns a piece of the parcel. The family refutes that completely, since they have a valid title to the land, which they say has never been subdivided. That’s just one of the matters under investigation – how did attorney Williams get the title which has been presented.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“We’re investigating everything. We won’t give details because as I said certain things will go before the court. We are going to do everything in the proper and legal process. We are going to give everybody their fair share of what needs to be said and done. But at the same time, my clients are not backing off and I don’t blame them. I mean this is land that has been in their family since 1904…it could be traced back further than that. But at least these will that they claim under is from then. And for even someone for the family to have signed over the land—let’s say that is what happened—it could not have been one person because of the way the entitlement has passed on. So somewhere along, we suspect there is some kind of fraud that took place.”

 

The bright yellow shack still sits on the front portion of the property. The family has given an undertaking not to touch it for the moment, though they want it gone. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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2 Responses for “Land dispute continues on Cemetery Lane”

  1. Belize buay says:

    Even the police are corrupted , they have to do what the minister and his higher officials tell them to do , or else no promotion , most of them are not incompetent of there positions. Was hold for a alleged offense that was not investigated properly and got locked up, a with an can on a similar gun offense and he went up stairs to are the officer incharge of dangriga and he was released instantly , now is that ring any bell if you poor they are quick to trough the Book at you if you got money you do what you want

  2. sickntired says:

    This da pure abuse of power and fraud. This da what di prime minista shoudda clamp down pon. Not even di minista of police no use him own police fi enforce noting fi he sweetheart. Belize really gone to batty now. I just feel like vomit when i read dis. I could just imagine di fear and humiliation dis poor family di suffa at di hands of dis abuser and di police.

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